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Autumn shows us how beautiful it is to let things go!

Autumn shows us how beautiful it is to let things go ~ unknown


Daoist philosophy suggests that everything in the universe is part of an unbroken whole, life arises from the interplay of opposites (yin and yang) and we can have a life of health and prosperity by observing nature and its natural cycles. When our bodies are in harmony with our surroundings, or nature 'The Dao', we are healthy and there is an abundant supply of qi, which is our life force that runs through an unseen network of meridians across the body. The flow of qi becomes depleted or blocked due to living outside of this natural state, by losing that connection with the Dao, when that harmony or balance is lost, this is when illness follows.

Autumn marks the time when we should begin to embrace all that is the season of the Metal element, it is the start of the Yin seasons, where the cycle of darkness becomes dominant, and our balance shifts inward, we begin to embrace the stillness, taking time for self-nurturing and reflection. Just as the leaves fall from the trees, we should reflect on what is no longer serving us and begin to let go, so we can welcome the abundance of new growth when Spring returns. Autumn, like Spring, is a season of change, so it is important to not drain your energy, and try to keep the body and mind in a state of quiet harmony to prevent the occurrence of disease. We should incorporate tranquil practices, breath work, Qi Gong, yoga and meditation, which help us with this process of taking in our world, transforming and letting go of what no longer serves us, as well as supporting the *Lung and Large Intestine energy to promote their detoxifying, dispersing, and clearing physical functions.

The Chinese medicine organs associated with Autumn, are the Metal element organs of the Lung and the Large Intestines. The Metal element has an inward and downward direction of movement, reflective of the associated organs and their function. The Lung is responsible for taking air in and 'dispersing' the oxygen throughout our bodies, this dispersing action supports the process of converting the nutrients created from the Spleen energy to the rest of the body, and importantly creating our 'Wei Qi', which is our protective qi (immune system). This Wei Qi provides a protective wall or a layer to stop pathogens from entering the deeper layers of the body. Abundant Lung energy during the Autumn and Winter months, where coughs, colds and flu become more prevalent, is an important factor in our immune function. If it is weak, we can be wiped out by every virus, flu or cold passing through our community. The Large Intestine is responsible for the elimination and detoxification processes of our body; it receives our waste material from the Small Intestines, reabsorbs water and electrolytes, and forms faeces for elimination.

If you haven't already, it is time to move away from the summer salads, smoothies and juices and focus on nourishing and warming dishes, including loads of cooked vegetables, casseroles, and soups. Autumn is also a period of dryness, so if you are experiencing any dry skin or a dry cough, adding foods that are moistening like soy products, apples, barley, seaweed, honey, pork and eggs are a good start, as well as cooking with a bit of butter and salt to draw moisture and nutrients in. Hydration is a key component for the smooth function of the Metal element. Whilst pungent foods, such as garlic, leeks, mustard, radish, and most spices, have a lifting and dispersing effect on the body, and an affinity with the Lung and Large intestine energy, they shouldn't be overused, and we must also include some sour foods, like kimchi, citrus and tamarind to nourish and protect the Liver (Wood element) energy from the overbearing action of the Metal element on the Wood element.

Grief and sadness are emotions related to the Metal element. Whilst we all may experience moments of sadness and grief in different periods of our lives; grief is an unavoidable part of human connection. But when we experience long periods with intense feelings of grief and loss and are unable to move on, forget or let go of past hurts it is often a reflection of the imbalance of the Metal element. The Lungs and Large intestines are responsible for taking in and letting go of substances and emotions, so in balance, we can let go and release what no longer serves us with ease. Emotional stress and unresolved emotions can have an impact on our lung and large intestine function, causing constipation, abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, skin, and respiratory problems.

Metal element personality types are considered precise, methodical, and disciplined; they can have perfectionist attitudes and place high standards on themselves and others. Like the associated qualities of metal, the Metal element represents solidity and stability. They often have a strong sense of order and organisation and thrive in careers that require analytical thinking or attention to detail. Often perceived as independent, reserved, and introspective, they prefer private small groups for social interactions. They may also tend to suffer from digestive and respiratory disorders.

Chinese Medicine and Daoism have five spirits, these are all aspects of our mind and soul, or our consciousness, each of them is associated with each of the five Yin organs of the body: the Heart, Spleen, Lung, Kidney and Liver. When the five spirits are in balance we vibrate with beauty and peace in line with the Dao and all that surrounds us, coming back to our most natural state. The spirit associated with the Metal element and the Yin organ Lung is "Poh" or the "Corporeal Soul", which guides our instincts and survival, it is our connection to the Earth in our human, physical form. When our Poh is in balance, we take care of our physical needs and can breathe deeply, we feel connected to the Earth and our surroundings, with a healthy sense of self-preservation and desire to evolve, grow and change in this lifetime.

The smell is the sense of the Metal element, and the Metal element opens into the nose. Taking in the fresh air and circulating it through the body is the responsibility of the lungs, so the sense of smell helps provide important information about our environment about what to take in, what to eat and how to stay safe where we go.

If our Metal element is in balance, the inward and downward movement is proficiently allowing proper circulation of oxygen and nutrients, and the elimination of waste and toxins in our bodies. Our sense of smell is clear and strong, and we can appreciate and enjoy our environment being highly effective, efficient, and productive.

When imbalanced, the movement of qi can become blocked or disrupted, our smell can be weakened and impaired. We can become overly critical and rigid, and we may struggle to change, and let go of past hurts or experiences, which can impact our respiratory, digestive and skin functions. A visit to your acupuncturist in the Autumn will promote the balance and harmony of the body and mind related to aspects of the Metal element, using acupuncture, moxibustion and herbal remedies that promote the Yang qi in preparation for the Winter months.

Autumn is a period of change and contemplation, like metal, we can be shaped and molded into something more refined and valuable. We must remain open to change, let go of the things that no longer serve us and allow those transformative processes to happen through contemplation, meditation, and gentle movement. With this refinement, we can be more aligned and connected with ourselves and the deeper aspects of the universe.

* Organs capitalised refer to the Chinese medicine organs and the functions and philosophies in Traditional Chinese Medicine, the capitalisation is used to identify and differentiate from the Western perspectives of the organ function.

Metal Element Info
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Di, H. (1995). The Yellow Emperor's classic of medicine: a new translation of the neijing suwen with commentary. (M. Ni, Trans.)

Kirkwood, J. (2016). The way of the five elements.

Maciocia, G. (2012). The foundations of chinese medicine. 2nd Edition.

Maciocia, G. (2009). The psyche in chinese medicine: treatment of emotional and mental disharmonies with acupuncture and chinese herbs.

Pritchard, P. (2002). Healing with whole foods (3rd edition).

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